An oddball Russian satellite that launched to orbit last May is now raising suspicions. The so-called Object 2014-28E was put into orbit at the same time with several communications satellites, but Russia has not elaborated on its purpose. The object has been maneuvering in a precise way and it’s possible its purpose is to clear out space junk or refuel other satellites. More →
Google will spend more than $1 billion on deploying its first Internet-beaming satellite fleet, The Wall Street Journal has learned, with the company expected to start its Internet program with 180 small satellites that will be orbiting the earth at lower altitudes than traditional satellites, and which would help Google bring the Internet to remote locations where other means of connecting the population to the Internet aren’t practical. More →
The United States is about to give the now nearly ubiquitous Global Positioning System an $8 billion overhaul. The improvements, which involve replacing each of the 24 aging GPS satellites, are estimated to take over a decade to complete, and will see the triangulation margin of error decrease from 20 feet to around 3 feet. The move comes as more and more devices, from phones to parking meters, are incorporating GPS units into their design. The L.A. Times estimates that there are over 1 billion GPS receivers that rely on the United States’. location system. Would a more accurate GPS system benefit you in any way? More →
The Galileo navigation satellite project has been in the works for some time now in Europe, spearheaded mainly by the drive to mitigate reliance on U.S. foreign satellite guidance systems. Galileo will, in theory, “offer greater accuracy — down to a meter and less; and greater penetration — in urban centers, inside buildings, and under trees; and a faster fix” when compared to the U.S. run GPS satellites. The new system is set to be offered with a tiered service model, five tiers to be exact, and will also come with an integrity check of sorts, warning users if and when their reported location may not be exactly bang on. Any good news for those of us stateside? Sure is. The U.S. and EU have agreed to make both the GPS and Galileo systems interoperable; newer navigation hardware will be able to position you using either constellation as well as benefit from any future improvements to the United States’ system. Europe started launching Galileo ‘sputniks’ into orbit in December of 2005 and the main constellation is set to go live sometime in 2010. Here’s to hoping that our beloved smartphones are updated with the new technology sooner rather than later.